The Coffee Trick can come in many different shapes and forms, but I call it such because it can usually be taken literally, by being asked to “grab coffee” as I’ve already examplified. Hm. First of all, what a poor choice of words in my opinion. Grabbing coffee? As if it can be grabbed, and as if that sounds fun? In short, the Coffee Trick is any form of a non-comittal, open-to-interpretation invite. Now I know some girls who like when guys use the Coffee Trick. When taken literally, as an invitation for coffee, the plusses are that it’s a short interval during the day, as opposed to an evening dinner that might drag on if it’s not going well; you can leave when you want because you probably have other places still to go; and if it does go well, the guy can ask you out for dinner then. I agree that it sounds better to be asked to “grab coffee” rather than “grab drinks”. Grabbing drinks to me says lazy, non-comittal, and sleazy. Is he going to try and get me drunk so he can take advantage of me? I personally don’t drink alcohol, but I can see the plus side to this, too. Again, it’s not the length of a dinner; you can back out and say you have another party to go to, if you’re not feeling it; and if it is going well, or if you are looking to get laid, then cheers. Other examples of the Coffee Trick are:

— “Wanna grab drinks after work?”

— “We should do lunch.”

— “You should come by my place sometime, I host football parties every Sunday.”

— “Maybe we can catch a Dogers game one of these days. You free this weekend?”

See the pattern? All of these are very ambiguous… Is he asking you to hang out just as a friend? Or is he asking you on a date? It’s too mortifying to ask. If we are interested in this guy, we say yes, and analyze what he might have meant for days leading up to our… we don’t even know what to call it… get-together? If we’re not interested, and don’t want to be considered the awful and ever-used term “presumptuous”, or if we just don’t want to hurt his feelings, we’ll assume he meant only as friends. I think most of us can agree that this only prolongs the inevitable conversation where you’ll have to hurt his feelings anyway. I also think most of us can clearly see in the above examples that the man is indeed expressing interest in us that can be considered more-than-friendly. Perhaps he really isn’t asking you out on an official date (although unless he uses that exact word, how can we be sure?). Maybe he just wants to get to know you better before doing that, which is why he’s suggested a low-pressure setting for the two of you hang out. Some girls find this mutually agreeable, and will even call it clever when a guy doesn’t reveal his intentions right away.

But what about those of us who really want to know? Speaking for myself, I don’t like this ambiguity. It is not attractive to me when a guy puts me in the guessing position because he’s not even sure if he’s into me. Worse, that he is sure and is too fearful of rejection to be direct. Most of us agree that we don’t like to play games, yet many of us do unwittingly or not. It’s not directly manipulative to offer a girl an unclear invitation, but it’s not exactly forthright.

I am attracted to ballsy confidence in men, even if it borderlines cockiness. Instead of hearing, “So we should grab lunch or coffee or something one of these days if you’re free,” I’d much rather watch a guy grin at me and say, “I’m gonna take you on a date this Friday.” Yes, it is very forward on his part, but personally, I find this sexy. True, he did assume I’d say yes, and from the wrong guy and said the wrong way, it would come across as offensively overconfident and even rude. Still, I’d much prefer that to a man who only had the nerve or lack of imagination to ask me to grab coffee. At least when he’s bold, you don’t have to guess what his intentions are.

Now I’ll give an example of a guy that asked me out the right way, or at least the right way to get his desired answer from me, which was an intrigued “yes”.

I met Karl at a sushi restaurent with a group of friends. My girlfriend Tatiana spoke highly of him and was excited to introduce us. Karl and I ended up sitting next to each other at the long table, and I found him to be very funny in that off-beat, almost inappropriate way that I like for some reason. As we were all saying our goodbyes, out of nowhere, Karl looked up from his phone and said, “I’m going to take you out Thursday night.”

“Are you?” I asked, laughing and thinking he was joking. He wasn’t. With charm, he asked me what kind of food I liked, and I said he should surprise me. “I like views,” I told him, giving him something to inspire from. “Do you like blimps?” he asked me. Wow. Points for creativity, even if it was bit incredulous.

No, Karl and I did not have dinner the following Thursday on a blimp. Certainly not for his lack of trying, though. He said the nearest one he found available for dinners on board was all the way down in San Diego, and he didn’t know how he could surprise me if we had to drive for four hours in rush hour freeway traffic without me thinking he was kidnapping me. I thought the fact he’d even looked into it was amazing. He did take me to finest Chinese restaurant in all of LA, though. It had no views, but it was a very hard-to-get reservation for a meal created by a world-renowned chef, and as a foodie, I forgave the lack of views and considered it a thoughtful enough place to go to on a first date. I appreciate forethought and a little creativity.

Karl and I never went on a second date (he travels for work, and ended up getting back together with his girlfriend in London), but I give him props for his confidence in the way he approached me for a first. An ex-boyfriend of mine always coached younger guys to “tell a girl what she wants, don’t ask her”. At first, and without elaboration, I thought this lesson was highly offensive and patronizing to women. What he meant though was, don’t tip toe around a girl and ask her vaguely if she’d like to hang out sometime. Show her why she’d want to hang out with you in the first place, and then tell her charmingly that you’re taking her to a dance show on Saturday, or whatever other definitive place you know of. Put this way, and through experiences like the way Karl asked me out without really asking, I’ve found I quite like this “tell-don’t-ask” theory. I’m sure it wouldn’t work on every girl, and again, coming from the wrong guy and said the wrong way it can most definitely be a gross turn off, but exectuted well and with the right amount of confidence… I think it’s irresistably sexy.